PROVIDENCE, R.I. — United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) is taking its next steps toward a zero-emissions future by deploying two battery-electric semi-trucks and five regenerative electric refrigerated trailer systems, company officials announced on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
UNFI is deploying the trucks and trailers in the Sacramento and Gilroy, California, markets, just in time for the peak holiday selling season, according to a news release.
UNFI worked with Penske Truck Leasing to secure two, class-8 electric trucks, which include the Freightliner eCascadia and the Volvo VNR Electric models. Both vehicles are well equipped for safety and driver comfort and include air-ride seats, air suspension, easy charging, and ample battery range and torque to meet UNFI’s typical freight hauling and delivery needs.
UNFI will combine these trucks with refrigerated trailers cooled by Carrier’s Vector eCool transport refrigeration unit (TRU). The all-electric Vector eCool uses power generated by ConMet eMobility’s nMotion TR 160-45, an in-wheel electric motor application that repurposes energy captured during coasting and braking.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the creativity and collaboration that go into bringing truly sustainable transport refrigeration solutions to market,” said Alice DeBiasio, vice president and general manager of Truck Trailer Americas and Digital Solutions Carrier. “We’re excited to see our Vector eCool units, using energy recovery and storage from the ConMet eMobility system, improve UNFI’s efficiency and environmental impact.”
The combination of clean, regenerated energy and Carrier’s Vector unit will help UNFI keep customers’ deliveries cold while creating zero emissions, the news release stated.
UNFI recently completed a study focused on heavy-duty fleet electrification planning, funded by the California Energy Commission.
UNFI officials said the results are helping to define the steps required to implement charging infrastructure and electric vehicles at multiple locations, including the company facility in Gilroy.
“The introduction of these efficient electric trucks and refrigerated trailers is a huge step forward, not only toward lowering our delivery costs-per-mile and achieving our own clean transportation goals, but also in helping UNFI achieve California’s ambitious goals on the adoption of zero-emission vehicles,” said Nick Selders, vice president of transportation at UNFI. “Implementing this zero-emission delivery solution will enable us become more cost efficient and prevent hundreds of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere per year.”
Patrick Watt, vice president of alternative vehicle and emerging technology at Penske Truck Leasing, said that his company is “pleased to collaborate with innovative customers like UNFI as they implement their fleet electrification initiatives and advance their sustainability commitments. We were able to accelerate this project with funding through California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). The availability of HVIP funding is important as it helps fleets offset a portion of the incremental costs of implementing new, commercial electric vehicle technologies.”
UNFI driver Brian Schrimsher, who has been behind the wheel for 20 years at the company, said he enjoys the new rigs.
“Driving the new electric truck has been great. It’s smooth, quiet and super comfortable,” he said. “The sporty look makes for a fun drive, and it has a lot of power. I get a lot of looks and questions from other drivers. Hopefully I can drive this truck every day.”
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.